- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

WINFIELD, KAN. (AP) - A man convicted of abducting and killing a 19-year-old college student more than two years ago was sentenced to death Friday.

Cowley County District Judge Jim Pringle followed a jury’s recommendation that Justin Thurber be executed for the 2007 death of Jodi Sanderholm.

Sanderholm’s family said they were satisfied with the death sentence and relieved the legal process was over.

Thurber’s defense attorney, Tom Frieden, did not immediately return a call Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors said Thurber, of Arkansas City, abducted Sanderholm and drove her for more than four hours before walking her into the woods, where he raped, sodomized and strangled her. The body of the Cowley College student was found several days later in a wildlife area near Arkansas City.

Pringle also sentenced Thurber to 176 months for aggravated kidnapping.

Earlier in the day, Pringle denied a defense motion for a new trial, ruling enough evidence was presented for the jury to conclude that the crime was committed in a heinous, atrocious and cruel manner. He also rejected a motion filed Thursday that claimed Thurber was mentally retarded and therefore not subject to the death penalty.

If Thurber had not been sentenced to death, he would have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The state has not executed a condemned inmate since 1965, though 10 prisoners currently are on death row.

___

Information from:

The Winfield Courier, http://www.winfieldcourier.com/

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